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Almond Pollination Directory
Bee Protection-Use of Insecticides
Bee Protection-Agricultural Sprays

A Successful Harvest Starts At Bloom

The blossoms of all California Almond varieties are self-incompatible, requiring cross-pollination with other varieties to produce a crop. The single most important factor determining a good yield is pollination during the bloom period. More than a million colonies of honey bees are placed in California Almond orchards at the beginning of the bloom period to pollinate the crop. California beekeepers alone cannot supply this critical need, which is why honey bees travel across the country to the San Joaqin Valley each year.

Over many years, the Almond Board of California has funded research to help understand bee colony health, behavior and requirements for pollination. Diseases and issues that limit bee health, such as colony collapse disorder, have also been studied. The studies have:

  • Developed guidelines on hive strength and number for sufficient pollination;
  • Assessed honey bee flight patterns and behaviors to better understand pollination of individual almond blossoms;
  • Helped beekeepers understand and control pests and diseases such as varroa mite and American foulbrood disease;
  • Assisted in preventing the widespread importation of pests such as red imported fire ant and small hive beetle accompanying colonies traveling to California;
  • Led to the development of an improved commercially available honey bee diet (MegaBee) for stronger hives at bloomtime.

Current research is looking into the causes and cures of colony collapse disorder, including the use of alternative bee types.

The Almond Board of California provides a pollination directory—a searchable database of beekeepers for almond growers to source pollinators. It is important for almond growers to have a contract in place with beekeepers, well before the pollination season begins. A contract should protect both parties, and the terms and conditions of the service agreement should be clearly defined. A good contract will clarify:

  • The number of frames of bees, including a minimum and average frame count
  • The number of frames of brood, if provided
  • How and when the hives will be moved in and out of the orchard
  • How the hives will be dispersed throughout the orchard
  • The accessibility of roads to the beekeeper
  • Payment terms, including deposit, progress payment and final payment
  • Recourse if service or payment is unacceptable to respective party
  • Specifics on use and timing of pesticides
  • Who will conduct the hive inspection
  • The temperature and time of day for inspection
  • Inspection timing throughout the contract period

External Links:

Project Apis m Best Management Practices

Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project
University of Georgia
University of Minnesota

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